For the past two-and-a-half years — ever since we participated in ademonstration of more than 1000 people against the G-20 in Montreal onOctober 23, 2000 — we have been waiting, with some anxiety, to be judgedby a jury on the charge of “participating in a riot.”
For the past two weeks, we’ve put our lives on hold as we sit in court defending ouractions and attacking the actions of police at Montreal’s Palais deJustice. We are making our closing arguments tomorrow and expecting averdict sometime this week.
The trial experience has meant serious sacrifice and much hard work thatwe’d prefer to dedicate to our activism and community work. Nonetheless,the trial has also been an empowering process because of the support of people like you. We are overwhelmed and grateful by the solidarity offered by those of you whohave taken the time to attend court in person and the many of you whohave sent along your words of encouragement. We are truly thankful.
As defendants in a jury trial for the charge of rioting, we don’t see this trial as beingabout just three individuals. To us, the G-20 trial represents an attempt bythe Montreal police to escalate their legal intimidation of politicalprotesters by pursuing serious indictable charges, like “participating in a riot,” that canresult in prison sentences. For the past seven years in Montreal, policestrategy has been mass round-ups of protesters on the legally ambiguousand relatively minor charges of “illegal assembly” and “disturbing thepeace.” The riot charge against three activists — not for their personalactions but for their visible presence at a demonstration — representsan attack on all of us engaged in street-level activism and vocalcommunity organizing.
We are well aware of the hundreds of people in Montreal who are facingvarious charges in court for their activism and organizing, including twenty-fiveother co-defendants who are still facing G-20 related charges in Montreal’smunicipal court. Upcoming trials involve anti-police-brutalitydemonstrators and activists, squatters, student organizers, Palestiniansolidarity activists, non-status persons who have been specially targetedby the police as well as communities of people who are targeted every dayby virtue of who they are — indigenous people, the poor, sex workers,street people and immigrant and refugee communities. As defendants who arecurrently facing the legal system, we want to offer our solidarity to allof you and our appreciation for your struggles in court and beyond.
We would also like to offer a special word of support to John Clarke,Gaetan Heroux, Stefan Pilipa and the members of the Ontario CoalitionAgainst Poverty (OCAP) in Toronto who have been in court for months, infront of a jury, defending themselves against “riot” and other charges for their effective and tireless organizing against poverty.
Gaetan and Stefan face up to two years in prison, and John faces up tofive years. We have sat in court for two weeks and really can’t imaginewhat a trial that has taken months might be like. As we await our verdicts, we wish you the best and offer our sincere admiration for OCAP’s fights in the courts and on the streets.
Finally, we want to say that perhaps the greatest inspiration to us duringthis whole process has been the fact that there continues to be inspiringand effective activism and organizing for justice and dignity in Montreal,Toronto and across this country. The best support all of you can offer us is tocontinue to struggle and fight. Again, thanks to all of you, and see onthe streets again really soon.
In struggle and solidarity,